Himalaya (with Michael Palin) (2004)
Introduction-Pre-Trip Introduction By Michael Palin
Menu Animation & Audio
Additional Footage-Extended Scenes
Interviews-Cast-Post-Trip Interview With Michael Palin
|Year Of Production||2004|
|Running Time||354:16 (Case: 395)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
Michael Palin is a very funny man. He is one of my favourite comedians of all time and probably my favourite of the great Monty Python group, although there are certainly strong claims to that title from John Cleese and Eric Idle. Palin's humour is so down to earth and natural he can make me laugh with nothing more than a facial expression. In this series he proves that comedy can transcend language barriers in a great scene involving a group of small children high in the Himalayas and his shoes. But, this is not a comedy series, so why am I going on about comedy so much? Well, it is Palin's easy way with a smile and a joke and his genuine, relaxed and down-to-earth demeanour which makes this show such a treat. It also explains why he has now made 6 of these travel based documentary series for the BBC. All of them have been well worth watching and most of them (including this one) have been exceptional television. The other 5 are:
Himalaya uses pretty much the same format as the previous series which can best be described as Michael Palin travels somewhere using local transport methods and introduces us to the local people, customs, food, wildlife and natural beauty. The wonderful thing about these shows is that they are a personal travelogue rather than trying to be a comprehensive documentary or travel guide. We meet numerous local characters and visit interesting and off the beaten track places which not everyone goes to. Some great examples of this in this series are a small theatre left over from the British Raj, a Prince in Pakistan who attends the bull races, a day with some Yak herders in Tibet and visiting an old Chinese doctor recommended to him by fellow Monty Python member, Terry Jones. I love the way that Michael doesn't just visit these people, he gets involved; helping to mix butter for the Yak herders, appearing onstage in the theatre or getting his teeth looked at by a very scary dentist in Pakistan. There are many more such treasures to be enjoyed in the main series and in the copious extra scenes.
The show includes six episodes of approximately one hour each. They are:
If you enjoyed the previous Michael Palin travel series, then you will certainly enjoy this one. If you have not seen one before, give this one a try - it's one of the best yet.
The video quality is very good.
The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.
The picture was clear and sharp throughout except that some scenes were affected by light grain. The grain was strangely inconsistent, sometimes non-existent and then at other times quite noticeable, but never heavy. There was no evidence of low level noise. The shadow detail was very good and came in quite useful in scenes where they were filming the effect of altitude on Michael while he was trying to sleep.
The colour was very good, showing the wonderful natural colours of the mountains and landscapes and the comparison to the brightly coloured prayer flags and local costumes.
Artefacts were very minimal with only a very occasional speck and some mild aliasing such as on buildings & car grilles in Episode 3 and a palace and train grille in Episode 4.
There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired. They were clear and easy to read but a little summarised from the spoken word.
The layer changes do not affect the main program.
The audio quality is very good, doing all that is required for a show of this type.
These DVDs contain an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.
Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync. Considering the dialogue driven nature of a documentary this is the most critical audio ingredient.
The music used is by David Hartley, Andre Jacquemin & Dave Howman and consists of the theme tune and some well written atmospheric music which adds to the feel of the show.
The surround speakers added some atmosphere and music when the disc was played using Dolby Digital ProLogic II.
The subwoofer added bass to the theme tune and other music, but this has more to do with my amp's bass management than it does the soundtrack itself.
|Surround Channel Use|
A large amount of extra material not included in the main show is included on the discs.
The menu includes multiple stills, music and the ability to select scenes and subtitles. On disc one, the menu is preceded by a Pre-trip introductory interview with Michael Palin which I will cover as an extra.
Recorded in London before setting off in 2003, Michael discusses his pre-trip concerns and that he is now 60 years old. Nice addition.
There are extra scenes included for each of the six episodes. The scenes are either deleted scenes and stories which did not make the cut, extended versions of scenes included in the main show or bloopers. Altogether there is over 2 hours of this extra material and nearly all of it is interesting, some very unlucky to miss the final cut. Each program's material can be either watched as individual scenes or by using a Play All function. It includes a voice-over style commentary obviously recorded later by Michael Palin, which can be very funny.
Includes a strange tree, an extended interview with the Prince, visiting money changers, morning markets and truck painters in Peshawar, more about the Kalash people, local languages and an extended interview with one of the Polo Captains. Great stuff.
Michael has lunch in a crashed aeroplane, meets Imran Khan, visits a brewery in non-drinking Pakistan, sees more of Lahore, meets a Pakistani film star, attends a floating market and sees some children dancing. Also includes more of the interview with the Dalai Lama and an outtake. More fascinating material.
Includes more material with the Ghurkha commander, meeting an old retired British Ghurkha living in Nepal, more about how the climb to Annapurna affected him, more of Kathmandu, an extra bonus sacred site and an interview with some Dutch people cycling through the Himalayas! The interview with the ex-Ghurkha is great.
Includes visiting more Tibetan sacred sites and shopping for coral.
Includes travelling the first bend of the Yangtze, visiting shamen and a Chinese run Ethnic Park which highlights local cultures, a soccer match and a bicycle ride.
Includes a visit to another monastery, an investigation of the Bhutanese fascination with phallic symbols, visiting a Bhutanese film star, chewing betel-nut and meeting a Bangladeshi businesswoman.
A great addition which is a post trip interview where Michael discusses how difficult it was physically and politically, tells some anecdotes about things which occurred off camera and tells us that it was his first journey in which he thought about quitting. He also recounts his favourite parts of the journey. Well worth watching.
This set has been released in both Region 2 and Region 4 in exactly the same format. It does not seem to be available in Region 1.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is very good , perfectly suited to the material.
The disc has a fantastic collection of extras.
|DVD||Pioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output|
|Display||Sony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Bose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)|